FLU Shots – Important for both the elderly AND their caregivers.

FLU Shots – A Necessary Evil for Elderly AND Their Caregivers.

I am not a fan of shots, never have been, never will be….BUT shots can prevent a lot of serious problems.  As I am sure you all know, it is flu shot time again.  But there are really three shots you should consider:  Flu, Pneumonia and Shingles. I will cover these in three separate posts.

Remember though it is critical to talk to your medical staff before getting any shot as your situation is unique and they would know best.

THE FLU:

It is impossible to determine what the flu will be like from year to year.  The only thing we do know is that flu kills people every year.  Getting a shot gives you the best protection.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) webpage is full of great information.  Here is a link to what I found helpful about the flu:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2013-2014.htm

The information below is copied from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) webpage.  I think it does an excellent job of explaining the different types of flu and vaccines available.  Make sure you read it carefully and then decided which one is right for you and your loved ones.

Flu Symptoms & Severity

Influenza Symptoms

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Flu Complications

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

People at Higher Risk from Flu

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Flu Severity

Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including:

  • what flu viruses are spreading,
  • how much flu vaccine is available,
  • when vaccine is available,
  • how many people get vaccinated, and
  • how well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness.

Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.

Types of Vaccines

What kind of vaccines will be available in the United States for 2013-2014?

There are several flu vaccine options for the 2013-2014 flu season.

Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) are available. In addition, this season flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines) also are available.

The trivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus. The following trivalent flu vaccines are available:

The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:

(*”Healthy” indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.)

CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.

Getting shots are a personal decision but speak to your physician to see if one would be helpful to you.

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